Today was our first day of work at the Bangragum Health Promotion Hospital. It is about 40 minutes away from our hotel. We met all the important health care officials, and because of our language class yesterday, we were able to introduce ourselves in Thai! During our meeting, the hospital treated us to fresh coconuts. It was so generous of them and caught us by surprise. It was a great treat to start our morning. They all were very interested in where we all “came from”, which I understood as “what are your ethnicities?” For most people in my group, it was easy for them to say particular location to describe their background. However, it was very difficult for me because I am bi-racial and multiethnic. My mother is African-American and has Irish heritage. My father is Puerto Rican, German, Italian, and Irish. So, I did my best to describe that I am a product of multiple places.
After the meeting, we had a tour of the hospital with the director. He did not speak English, so Nat translated everything for us. This is a village level hospital, which is an integral part to the Thai healthcare system. The village hospitals work towards treating all their patients as much as they can, also promote overall health to prevent them for getting sick or worsening condition which would require them to go to the district level hospital. In the main hallway of the clinic where patients usually wait for their turn to see the doctor, there were two large cabinets filled with pamphlets. These pamphlets were about all different diseases and ways to prevent or treat them such as malaria and STDS. It was exciting to see that because it is a smart public health tactic by encouraging people to take a look at the information while they are waiting and educate themselves.
We had our first home visits with the doctor and nurses. These were extraordinarily hard to do because we visited two patients: one was paralyzed from a motorcycle accident and the other had a stroke. The first house we went to was a young man who was on his way to work on his motorcycle when he was hit by a car. Motorcycle accidents are very common in Thailand, and many people do not wear helmets. Unfortunately, our patient did not wear one either. He was paralyzed from his waist down. The doctor only visits him once a month, and during this time the doctor does not do much other than ask him general questions about his health. The doctor also helps the patient stretch which is something that does not happen often because the patient does not have someone to help him out during the day. Both home visits were hard to experience, but informative of the reality of the health and living situation of rural Thai people. Both homes were around still water, which screams mosquitoes. The homes do not have air condition, and many of the luxuries we have back in the United States.
After our work day was over, a few members of my group and I headed down to Chinatown. By the time we arrived, they were closing up a lot of their shops, but it was cool to see what it looked like.